UK – British consumer goods company Unilever has been flagged as an “International Sponsor of War” by the Ukrainian government, alleging that the company continues to profit from its operations in Russia.

The Ukraine Solidarity Project (USP) on Monday erected a giant billboard outside the Anglo-Dutch consumer group’s London headquarters featuring pictures of wounded Ukrainian soldiers – posing in the style of the Dove beauty brand’s advertisements – and the slogan: “Helping to fund Russia’s war in Ukraine.”

Unilever is on the sponsors of war list alongside companies, including Procter & Gamble (P&G), the world’s largest manufacturer of household chemicals and personal care products, and the French supermarket group Leroy Merlin.

“The National Agency on Corruption Prevention has added British company Unilever onto its list of ‘International Sponsors of War’,” said a statement.

The Agency stated that Unilever’s presence in Russia and its significant tax contributions to the Russian state budget support the aggressor country’s economy and contribute to Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine.

In February, the CPG company said it will continue to condemn the war in Ukraine as a brutal and senseless act by the Russian state.

It added that since March 2022; the company has ceased all imports and exports of its products into and out of Russia and stopped all media and advertising spending.

Unilever also ceased all capital flows into and out of the country but emphasized that it will continue to supply everyday food and hygiene products made in Russia to people in the country.

“We understand why there are calls for Unilever to leave Russia. We also want to be clear that we are not trying to protect or manage our business in Russia. However, for companies like Unilever, which have a significant physical presence in the country, exiting is not straightforward,” the company explained.

The Ben& Jerry’s brand owner has become subject to a law in Russia obliging all large companies operating in the country to contribute directly to its war effort.

Valeriia Voshchevska, a spokesperson for USP, said: “Unilever is contributing hundreds of millions in tax revenues to a state which is killing civilians and funding a mercenary group about to be designated a terrorist organization in the UK.

“It risks its staff and resources being mobilized into Putin’s machine. Some of the world’s biggest companies have already left Russia. It’s possible – after 16 months of war – that the time for excuses has passed.”

Unilever Rus, the group’s local Russian business with registered offices in Moscow and Omsk, doubled profits to 9.2bn roubles last year, according to the Dutch investigative group Follow the Money, and increased advertising spend by 10% to 21.7bn roubles.

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